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Top Belgian Cancer Center Becomes First in Country to Introduce RapidArc Radiotherapy Treatments From Varian Medical Systems

LEUVEN, Belgium, Feb. 2 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- A 74-year-old prostate cancer patient has become the first person in Belgium to be treated using a new, faster form of radiotherapy that extends more advanced care to more patients. The University Hospital of Leuven delivered the faster treatment using RapidArc radiotherapy technology from Varian Medical Systems (NYSE: VAR).

The patient, a retired military aircraft engineer from Kortenberg near Leuven, said he was pleased to be the country's first to receive this advanced form of image-guided intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT). By coincidence, his older brother was also treated for prostate cancer at the hospital two years ago, receiving a successful course of conventional IMRT.

"This patient is now feeling very well and he is very proud of being number one in Belgium," says Dr. Karin Haustermans, head of the Department of Oncology. "We are identifying patients for whom RapidArc is a beneficial treatment and we have been very pleased with the early results. Not everyone will be treated in this way but it appears to have major advantages in speed and precision for many of our prostate cancer patients."

Frank Van den Heuvel, director of physics, believes RapidArc will enable the hospital to bring down standard treatment slots from 12 minutes to ten minutes, enabling six patients to be treated per hour rather than five. "This is an entirely new technique for us so early treatments will inevitably take a little longer but once it becomes a part of our routine I believe we can achieve these targets," he said.

Prior to starting RapidArc treatments, research physicist Wouter Crijns carried out a series of tests revealing that RapidArc treatments could offer five significant benefits over and above conventional IMRT treatments. Along with time-savings he identified an improvement in sparing nearby organs at risk from being affected by the radiation, an ability to boost the dose from 74 to 78 Gy while achieving a 30% reduction in 'monitor units' used during treatment, and an ability to tighten margins from 1cm to 0.7cm because of less prostate motion during the shorter treatment. In addition, patient comfort is improved because the time they need to lie on the treatment table is shortened considerably.

"The team at Leuven has done a great job in introducing RapidArc treatments so quickly and becoming among the first in Europe to begin treatments using this technique," said Vincent Ronfle, Varian's regional sales manager. "This hospital is well-known for its innovative approach and technical choices and it has been quick to implement an advanced treatment technique which improves quality while saving time."

The University Hospital of Leuven treats up to 200 patients per day on five Varian Clinac(R) linear accelerators. The hospital was one of the earliest in Europe to introduce IMRT treatments and the technique is now used routinely for prostate, head & neck, oesophagus and rectal cancer treatments. As the hospital becomes more familiar with the technique, RapidArc image-guided IMRT treatments will gradually be introduced for indications other than prostate cancer.

Editorial contact: Neil Madle, Varian Medical Systems, +44 7786 526068

About Varian Medical Systems

Varian Medical Systems, Inc., of Palo Alto, California, is the world's leading manufacturer of medical devices and software for treating cancer and other medical conditions with radiotherapy, radiosurgery, proton therapy, and brachytherapy. The company supplies informatics software for managing comprehensive cancer clinics, radiotherapy centers and medical oncology practices. Varian is a premier supplier of tubes and digital detectors for X-ray imaging in medical, scientific, and industrial applications and also supplies X-ray imaging products for cargo screening and industrial inspection. Varian Medical Systems employs approximately 5,100 people who are located at manufacturing sites in North America and Europe and in its 60 sales and support offices around the world. For more information, visit

SOURCE Varian Medical Systems
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